Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Stars at Night...

My time with S & D was very nice. S unfortunately had to work, but I got to spend some time with D which was great.

D & I got up relatively late on Thursday and headed toward a favorite eatery of S & D's called "Fresh Choice." Unfortunately it was closed down, but fortunately D had an idea of a good Tex Mex restaurant we could go to called Rio Mambo. I can't get enough of some good Tex Mex and we practically had the restaurant to ourselves.

From there we stopped by to see A at work for a few minutes, and then over to Target. D helped me find not one, but TWO purses and both were less than $5.00 each on clearance! I was thrilled, to say the least!

That evening I drove to Plano and met my nephew and his paramour, N for dinner at a place called "BD's Mongolian Barbeque." I got there early and had a frosty globe of Shiner Bock and was so very happy! Eric was in the midst of moving so both he and N were tired, so we enjoyed our meal, talked for a bit and parted ways. I was sad, but I know I'll get to spend some time with Eric at Marti's wedding! (More on that later!)

Friday found me being so groggy that it felt like I hadn't slept. I wandered in to S & D's living room and planted my happy ass on S's recliner. I proceeded to stay planted there for the morning and most of the afternoon. D was busy in the kitchen baking a cake from scratch and cooking a sumptuous meal for dinner. She paused long enough to make me a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. I watched all of the episodes of "Starting Over" that D had graciously taped for me. (Oh how I want to have a TiVo when I grow up!!!) Please know that I asked D several times if she needed help. However D is one of those hostesses that insists that the guest does nothing. I was just groggy enough to not protest a lot. ;-) (Thanks, D for treating me like a Queen!)

S came home from work and we enjoyed the wonderful meal that D made for us. The cake was to die for!!! When dinner was done, we drove to Arlington to meet a co-worker of S's to see "The Village." (I enjoyed it!) On the way home we drove through Starbucks and got some wonderful chocolatly concoction and then headed back to the house for a "Days of Our Lives" Marathon! S and I have both been Days fans since practically the womb, and it's so much more fun to watch it with someone that you can make fun of it with!

Saturday I woke up to S & D making a wonderful breakfast. Afterward, I took a shower, packed up my car and gave big hugs to both S & D. I had such a good time with them and I miss them already.

I left S & D's and headed over to Dallas to H & K's house. They live in an old neighborhood called Oak Cliff. Most of the houses were built in the early 20th century and people have loving restored these old houses to their original beauty. H & K had not lived here long, and I couldn't wait to see their new home. As I drove up to the house I saw that it was really beautiful and was just as impressed when I got inside.

H & K had invited some friends over for dinner Saturday night, so K was already working on dinner. They were doing some yard work in the back and needed some lunch, so we zipped over to the Bishop Arts District for dinner. We ate at this wonderful South American place where the dining room sat only about 20 people. Luckily we got there at a time when we could just sit down, but H said they have waited as long as 2 hours for a table on a Saturday night.

The rest of the afternoon was spent getting ready for the evening. My assignment was to pick out music and I took this very seriously. Going through my 100 CD's that I brought to find the perfect mix. I was really pleased that everyone seemed to like my selections.

The friends began to arrive and we all enjoyed the wonderful food that H & K offered us for appetizers and the great wine they found on their recent trip to Colorado.

For dinner, K had made this sumptuous feast for us. We had a Roast with potatoes and carrots, homemade macaroni and cheese, salad, green bean casserole, crescent rolls and the list goes on and on. We sat at H & K's beautiful dining room table that was lit with candles and had a great time talking and eating.

Afterwards, we went out to the back patio and enjoyed the cooler evening. K and C smoked cigars and H and L baked brownies for everyone. It was a really nice evening.

Sunday we went to church and then went with the same friends from the dinner plus a few more for brunch at this cool dive of a diner. It was so good! After that, we took our full belly's home and indulged in a decadent Sunday afternoon nap.

Later that afternoon, we met C & L back out at the Bishop Arts District at "Ifs, Ands and Butts." This place specializes in selling sodas from the past and Cigars. They had Frostie's Rootbeer, Dad's Rootbeer, A & W, Grape, Orange and Peach Nehi, Microbrewed Root Beers and just novelty stuff that you've never seen before or thought they didn't make anymore. I just had to have a Grape Nehi and everyone else got various Root Beers. We parked ourselves across the street in front of an abandoned store front and in the shade and just shot the breeze and watched people go by. It was really nice and relaxing. We talked C & L into coming back to the house to help us eat leftovers from Saturday night and we watched a good dose of the Olympics.

Monday K had to work but H, who works from home, was able to make it a "light" day. I finally got up and moving and we went to another really cool diner that's been around forever. I had some chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn that made me want to slap my Momma! After that, H drove me around Oak Cliff so I could see all the beautiful houses and architecture before she dropped me off at the house while she went to run some errands. K came home and we had some good and much needed conversation. That evening, H & K did some yard work while I got ready for my trip home. H then grilled some steaks and sweet potatoes for dinner and I was in heaven.

Tuesday morning I packed up the car and headed out of town back toward ATL. I was in Texas just long enough. I didn't wear out my welcome and I wasn't dying to get back to ATL. It was just perfect. As I was driving, I recounted my trip and counted my blessings. I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life, both in Texas and out. I am so thankful for each and every person in my life.

I stopped in Jackson, MS again that evening. The next morning as I was headed out of town, I stopped for my final Whataburger until I go back to Texas for the holidays. I got into ATL around 5 and alerted everyone that I was back home. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I may never live in Texas again, but I'll always be a Texan.



Friday, August 27, 2004

...are big and bright...

So I got to A's house Sunday evening and was greeted by a cacophony of Schnauzer barks. A has 3 of the little critters, and damn if they aren't loud!!!

A's Mom came over and we had a yummy dinner of Spaghetti that A had made with her own 2 hands. The remainder of the evening was spent talking and watching TV and then A had to go to bed. Unfortunately, she was having an endoscopy done the next morning.

The next morning I spent sitting in G's recliner and watching "Breakfast at Tiffanys." It was my first time seeing it, believe it or not. A came back from her endoscopy and promptly went back to bed. Never being one to turn down a nap, I decided to go back to bed as well.

That evening, we finally convinced G to go to Whataburger and get us some dinner. Oh how I love Whataburger and they just don't have them east of the Mississippi.

Tuesday was my day with my stepmom. I met her at her daughter's house and we had a nice afternoon sitting and chatting and watching cooking shows on the Food Network. Finally it was suggested that we go to "Joe T. Garcia's" for dinner. We loaded up in my stepmom's Lincoln Continental land barge and away we went. "Joe T.'s" (as the locals call it) is a Ft. Worth institution and must be sampled if you are ever in Ft. Worth. We got a table on the patio and had our choice of one of the 2 meals they make: Mexican Dinner and Fajitas. No pesky menus needed here! We all got the Mexican Dinner and Iced Teas and talked and people watched. It was really very nice.

I was headed back to A's house at about dusk and got back just in time to chat for a bit before A went to bed. My visit with her was way too short and unfortunately she was feeling crappy. Despite this, it was great to see her and G. I'll see them again over the holidays for sure and A assures me she'll be healthy and have time off work.

Wednesday found me loading up my car and heading to Ft. Worth. I met my old boss from high school, Tom, at his place of business. Now, Tom is more than just an old boss. Tom is my other Dad. He was such a wonderful male role model for me when me and my Dad were not getting along. I love Tom so much and send him a Father's Day card and Christmas card every year. We had not gotten to spend time with each other and talk more than a few sentences or an occasional letter in YEARS, so I was so excited to get to see him!

He took me to Angelo's Barbeque for lunch, another Ft. Worth institution that must be experienced. I had forgotten about the old place until I walked in and saw the huge stuffed bear. Not a Teddy bear, mind you, but a big ole Grizzly Bear standing on his hind legs! That thing used to scare me to death when I was a little kid and I instantly remembered that I had been here before!

The years fell away and I instantly felt connected with Tom again. In the short time we were together we both spoke from our hearts and had to work to suck the tears back into our eyes, lest we cry right there in Angelo's. When Tom finally had to go back to work, we hugged several times and I didn't think I could love Tom anymore than I already did, but by the end of our visit, I did.

That evening I was invited to dinner at the home of M & G. Now these folks have known me practically since I was born. I hadn't seen them since my Mom's Memorial Service in October of 1996, so this visit was LONG overdue. M & G looked wonderful and their house was just as I remembered it. As usual, the house smelled wonderful because both M & G are gourmet cooks.

Before too long, L, M & G's youngest daughter, showed up with her husband and 2 beautiful girls. We sat down to a wonderful dinner of boiled shrimp, potato salad, fresh corn on the cob and some lovely wine. What made the meal especially wonderful was the conversation. We caught up on each other, we talked politics, and we reminisced about the past. I looked around the table at these sweet people and realized that these folks, although not related by blood, are my family and part of who I am today. They were some of the many folks that had a hand in raising me. Man, am I fortunate, or what?

After dinner, L called me into the laundry room. There is a chalkboard in there that after ever major event that happens in M & G's house, it is documented on the chalkboard. L pointed out the last entry that her and I made together when M & G had given me a VW Bug and L was put in charge of teaching me how to drive it. On the way back to the house after my lesson, we had a wreck. There in my handwriting on this chalkboard was "L and Joan just wrecked the VW Bug" and was dated 1987. I barely heard L explaining that one of her daughter's accidentally almost erased our entry as I saw other entry's: Mom and I at their house for Thanksgiving's and Graduation's. Wow! I am a part of these people's past!!! They are a part of my past!!! Of course I have always known this, but seeing this chalkboard that I was a part of for well over 20 years just blew me away.

Later that evening, after more conversation, a phone call from M & G's oldest daughter, and pictures made by a mammoth plant my Mom gave to M, I headed back to S & D's house. I was feeling so happy and glad that I made this trip to Texas, if only for that day.

(To be continued)


Deep in the heart of Texas

I was planning my trip to Texas and D made a suggestion: "How about if I send S out to ATL to ride with you to Texas?" Of course I was all about that! S and I had not had any time alone in YEARS, so it would be cool to get to have 2 days together on the highway. D, who is the premier internet research expert, found a fare and booked it in no time flat.

S flew in and I picked her up from the airport on Thursday night. We went back to Casa de Joan and stayed up entirely too late. The next day, Jef came over and he and S went off on their own adventure for the day.

I was so proud of myself because I went to bed early and planned to get up early so that I would be at Jef's house at 10am on Saturday morning. I did get up early. I was a really productive little human being until I sat down to check my email and blog one last time. I wasn't going to be near a computer for about 5 days, for goodness sake!

Something was wrong with my computer. Something was horribly wrong. I could not get on the internet and when I did it was slower than a 14.4 modem!!! My email wouldn't download!!! I couldn't get on the web. OH. MY. GOD!!! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO??? So I furiously began to do all the little things that I knew to do. I ran my virus software. Nothing. I did a disk clean up. No change. I defragged. No change.

In the midst of all of this, am I getting up and doing stuff while the computer is defragging or the viruses are being scanned? No! I have to witness it all with my own eyes! (Yes, I know. I am a freak.)

I called Jef's house at around 9am and told him to tell S to sleep in a bit because I wasn't going to be there until 11. I continued to obsessively try to do what I could to figure out why I was having so much trouble. Finally, I pushed away from the computer desk, closed my eyes, took 3 cleansing breaths and shut down my computer. I slowly got up and walked away from my desk. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I know I heard my computer whispering, "Don't leave me Mommy - I'm sick!"

However, I still was not done packing and I had the most important part of packing left to do: The picking out of the CD's to take on the trip!!! I think in the end I took at least 100 CD's with me. I maybe listened to 1/5 of them, but if I didn't have the other 4/5, I would have missed them! I know I would!

Finally, I was on my way to Jef's to pick S up at 11:30. I had made the requisite stop at the Quick Trip and picked up a 49 cent 32 oz. Diet Coke for S and I, and ice for the cooler. By the time I got to Jef's house, it was noon. S was peeved and rightly so. I was very sincerely apologetic. I knew I was being a freak, but I just wasn't being able to help myself. It wasn't until after we stopped at Arby's to get some lunch for the road and I just blurted out, "Are you still annoyed with me?" that she admitted that she wasn't anymore and we were fine for the rest of the trip.

We were motoring along the freeway and passed a fire in the median. It looked as if someone may have thrown a cigarette out and hit some dry grass or something. I called 911 on my trusty cell phone and was promptly put on hold. I finally hung up after 5 minutes on hold. I'm hopeful that someone else called and didn't get put on hold and the fire was taken care of. I figured if that wasn't the case, then I would call again if the fire was still raging when I came back through on my way back to ATL.

We stopped for the night in Jackson, Mississippi. First of all, I'd like to say that I'm very fond of spelling Mississippi. S chuckled a little the first 5 or 10 times I spelled it, then she was pleading with me to stop.

As we were driving in Mississippi, I kept seeing signs that said, "Miss Highway Patrol - Next Right" or "Miss Museum of Country Music - Next Exit" and I was thinking to myself, "Do they have a pageant for Miss Highway Patrol or Miss Museum of Country Music?" I decided to ask S what she thought and the question was about half way out of my mouth when it dawned on me: Miss = Mississippi and no pageants were involved. S looked up from her "Real Simple" magazine and shook her head at me.

We stayed at a lovely La Quinta Inn, courtesy of the lovely A. We had a wonderful meal at the Macaroni Grill. We got back to the room and there was quite a brou-ha-ha over when we were leaving the next morning. A wanted us to leave at 7:00am so I could be at her house early. We finally agreed on 8:30am but A was not very happy and made me give the phone to S to insure that S would not let me stay any longer than that. I bitched and moaned about how early that was, and then set my alarm for 6:00am. Ha! That would show them!

Despite this, we still did not hit the road until 8am. That was fine, though because we had to stop at the Jackson, MS Save Rite for some Peach Nehi for S's mother. It seems to be the only place in the world that sells it. I sat in the car and watched as people came and went. One woman came out to her truck and loaded about 10 bushels of collard greens. I salivated thinking of how good they were going to taste around supper time.

We made it to Shreveport by lunch time. We stopped at a casino for lunch. Casino's have the best buffet's, you know! We went into the casino and found the nickel slots. S sat down and fed the machine $4.00 and played for a good 30-45 mins. I put $10.00 in and played for about 5 mins. I hate slot machines. Take me to the horse races any day, man!

4 hours later we pulled into S & D's drive way. We unloaded all of S's stuff under the watchful eye of their neighbor who was "hiding" behind a tree. S & D affectionately call him "Bobo." I asked why, and D referred to the part of the body that a "bobo" is. Ahh! I understand now!

I pulled away from there and drove toward A's house.

(To be continued!)


I need to be sleeping!!!

One of the many advantages to going on vacation was that I got back on a normal eating and sleeping pattern. However I'm really having to fight myself not to go back to my nocturnal ways.

I was doing good! Honestly! However last night I got my computer back and I could not tear myself away from it all night. For some odd reason I felt it very important that I be sitting in front of the PC while Norton's was scanning all 45 bajillion files on my computer. By the time that was done, it was 4:30am and I had to hurry up and go to sleep before the sun came up and I was turned to dust.

I had the BEST sleep last night, though. Some of the best sleep I've had in a long, long time. I had some really good dreams that I can't remember, but I know they were good because I was laughing in my sleep. When I finally woke up and rolled over to look at the clock it was 1:53pm. Yup! 1:53 in the friggin' PM. Whew!

So here I sit at my beloved computer just a little more than 12 hours after I woke up and I'm writing about needing to sleep.

I'm a weird and complicated individual, aren't I?



Thursday, August 26, 2004

What a long strange trip it's been!

I'm finally back!!!

I've actually been back from my trip to Texas for a week, but I came back to my computer being overrun by Adware. GRRR!!! A trip to the PC Hospital and I'm back up and running! YAY!!!

My trip to Texas was AWESOME! I had the best time! I was warmly welcomed by lots of friends and it was just so good to see and spend time with everyone. I'm such a lucky girl to have such wonderful friends! (insert happy and contented sigh here)

I'll write more later on today, but I just wanted to get the word out that I was back and my computer is fixed.

I've really missed you!



Thursday, August 12, 2004

Greetings, Salutations and Just plain HOWDY!

Guess where I am? Just guess! Yes, you are exactly right: in lovely Texas. I grew up here and it really feels good to come back home.

I forgot how wonderful it is to be able to see a storm coming from miles and miles away. I forgot how cool it is to be able to see nothing but flatness with the occasional rolling hill. I forgot how peaceful it is to see a lone windmill on a prairie, or grazing cattle, or a real live cowboy. I forgot how good REAL Tex Mex taste, and how sweet the sound of a Texas accent falls on my ears, and how quickly I revert back to speaking "Texan" myself.

I may never live in this state again, but I will always be a Texan.

I will write of my adventures when I'm back home, but in the meantime, know that I'm having a wonderful time and wish you were here.



Monday, August 02, 2004

Music, Music Everywhere...

...and not a drop to drink...? Wait! That's not right!

Anyway - I was reading
Jef's post on music that gets stuck in your head and the lovely and talented Jesse responded to him saying that Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" gets stuck in his head. I was so excited I almost had to change underwear because I LOVE me some Jeff Buckley!! Love, love, LOVE!

They have a new radio station here in Atlanta called "
Dave FM." It took over what used to be Z93, which was a classic rock station that I loved. I tried to be resistant to liking Dave FM since they took over my beloved Z93, but damn it! I can't!!! Dave FM is the radio station that I would have created if I had a zillion dollars and could buy out Clear Channel! They play music from the 70's through the present and so far, I have not heard them play the same song twice, which is so freaking amazing!!! I mean think about it, there was a helluva lot of music made between the 70's and now. There shouldn't be a reason to hear the same song 87 times in the same 24 hr period, ya know?

I talked to a friend in DFW the other day and she said they have a station called "
Jack FM." Coincidence? I think not!

OK, now that I've gushed, I must point out the downside. The downside is that the DJ's are gone. Some people would say that is a good thing, but I really had come to love
Mara Davis and Dunham and Kaedy Kiley and Willard and Adam Caskey and Makenzie. Where did they go? Does anyone know?

I have acquired some REALLY good CD's recently! In my last post, I told y'all about getting a Beth Wood and Jennifer Kimball CD's for a buck each. They are amazing gems. I also have recently gotten
Patty Griffin's latest, "Impossible Dream," Mindy Smith's "One Moment More," and Jen Chapin's "Linger." OH. MY. GOD. All of these CD's are so wonderful. RUN, don't walk, to your closest independent CD store and buy them!!!

I had the pleasure to see Patty Griffin at one of the best places to see live music in Atlanta (IMHO), the
Variety Playhouse. She is so good, it's beyond words. I'm SO wishing that I could go to Chastain to see her with Emmylou Harris - if someone wishes to have me tag along with them to the show, I would be most happy to oblige!!!

I had been hearing people "rumbling" about Mindy Smith for a while. I was driving to church last week and listening to "
Organic X" on 99X and they played Mindy's, "Come to Jesus." Man, I was blown away! I HAD to have the CD! The rest of the album is fantastic as well!

Saturday I was at
Barnes and Noble and they were featuring Jen Chapin on their listening station. I was intrigued because in the little "blurb" they had about her, they mentioned she was the daughter of Harry Chapin of "Cat's in the Cradle" fame. The album is so good! She's kinda jazzy, kinda folky, kinda soulful - she reminds me of Alana Davis, kinda. The whole album is worth the price you paid just for the song, "I Could Fall (in Love with You)"

I got so excited because JC quoted a lyric from an
Ani Difranco song in her blog today. It got me thinking of my favorite lyric from her song "Come Away From It" that's on her "Up Up Up Up Up Up" CD: Do you gotta have a tripledecker super fudge sundae with a g*&d%$# cherry on top? She says that line with such venom! It's so fun!

OK....here's a challenge...in the comment section, tell me your favorite lyric and why. Also, tell us the artist and song title and album so we can all enjoy it!



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